The preview season for Zendikar Rising kicked off this morning with a ton of information about Magic: the Gathering’s upcoming expansion set. Zendikar Rising will be available on MTG Arena and Magic online on September 17 and will release on tabletop on September 25.

Don’t miss our coverage of today’s other news: reveal of the entire 2021 set schedule and two new Secret Lair drops.


  • There are four mechanics: Party, modal double-faced cards, Kicker, and Landfall
  • Pathway dual lands that use the modal double-faced card mechanic!
  • All of the landfall cards have hedron-esque showcase frames
  • Full art basic lands
  • Expeditions: 30 lands, including all 10 fetches, with both foil and non-foil versions
  • Magic story returns with web fiction, starting Wednesday, September 2

Mechanics and Cards

Zendikar Rising has four mechanics, two of which are new—Party and modal double-faced cards—and two of which return from previous Zendikar sets—Kicker, and Landfall.


The Party mechanic is “aimed at making you feel like you’re on an adventure with your friends,” said Principal Product Designer Mike Turian.

There are four adventuring classes—Warrior, Wizards, Rogue, and Cleric—and you can form a Party by having one creature of each of those classes on the battlefield. Each class has its own distinctive costuming and creatures in a Party can get bonuses for the number of creatures in the Party or even for having a complete party.

You might be thinking, Wow, Changelings seem great with Partner! And you’d be partially right—unfortunately, a Changeling can only count as one member of a Party itself, so you’d have to have four Changelings to have a full party.

In that same vein, Wizards added creatures to the set that count as all four adventuring classes, like Tajuru Paragon.

But, again, even Tajuru Paragon can only count as one member of a party, despite being all four classes.

Interestingly, Party isn’t limited to just creatures. Coveted Prize, for example, is a sorcery with two kinds of Party-based cost reduction.

Modal Double-Faced Cards

The second new mechanic in Zendikar Rising is modal double-faced cards. Similar to other double-faced cards, like werewolves, these have two sides—but in Zendikar Rising, the two sides are two different cards that you can choose between.

Take Valakut Awakening, for example. It’s front side is an instant card draw spell—but what if you are short on lands? Well, good news, its back side is Valakut Stoneforge, a land! And you get to choose which side of the card you want to play!

All of the modal double-faced cards have lands on the back, while the front sides can be creatures, spells, or lands.

The Pathway Dual Lands

The cycle of dual lands in Zendikar Rising are the Pathways, which use the modal double-faced card mechanic to cram two lands onto one card.

There are six—yes, six—Pathways in Zendikar Rising. They are:

The reason there are six Pathways in the set, rather than the five or 10 that Wizards normally puts in a cycle, is to support the mana requirements for the Party classes. Each class is focused in two colors: Clerics in White and Black, Rogues in Black and Blue, Warriors in Red and White, and Wizards in Blue and Red. Therefore, four Pathways that match those color pairs were easy to include.

Green, on the other hand, isn’t a primary color for any of the classes but is the only color to have access to all four classes. Wizards therefore included two additional Pathways in order to support Green Party decks.

“Any time we’re doing land cycles, we want to make sure that we’re introducing each one of the color pairs because, while it makes sense for Zendikar Rising to have each of the class Pathways that match up [to a class], Magic players as a whole are just going to want all 10,” Turian said. “We will absolutely see the other four. They’re in an upcoming set, so people won’t have to wait too long.”


The Kicker mechanic has appeared in previous Zendikar sets and returns for Zendikar Rising. Not much has changed about the mechanic, as it still allows you to dump a little extra mana into a spell for an extra effect.

Well, nothing much has changed except for the fact that Kicker can now appear on Planeswalkers. Meet Jace, Mirror Mage, which you can Kick for two extra mana to get an extra copy of Jace.


Landfall, which debuted in the original Zendikar, also returns in Zendikar Rising. Like Kicker, its the same as it ever was, giving bonuses to creatures and spells when a land enters the battlefield.

Well, except for that it too has been added to a Planeswalker. Nissa of Shadowed Boughs, aside from being Golgari, also features a Landfall trigger that gives her an extra loyalty counter.

Showcase Frames

Zendikar Rising’s showcase frames are focused on the Landfall mechanic. Every Landfall creature, and a few Landfall spells, will get a showcase frame with unique artwork. These variants can be found in Draft, Set, and Collector Boosters, while some of the uncommon showcase cards can be found in Theme Boosters.

The Landfall showcase frame is themed around Zendikar’s hedrons. The art style is intended to be an homage to travel posters. Principal Art Director Tom Jenkot said that “the creative conceit for the showcase art was to show off Zendikar as travel posters with a rich, sun-kissed setting and colors. To show off Zendikar in a way that is as vibrant as it is dangerous.”

Full Art Basic Lands

Another Zendikar set means more full art basic lands. While full art lands have become much more common in the last few years, it just wouldn’t feel like Zendikar without full art basics.

The 15 full art basic lands will come in both Draft and Set Boosters of Zendikar Rising, while there will be one foil land in each Collector Booster.


Like the original Zendikar and Battle for Zendikar, Zendikar Rising will have its own version of Expeditions—30 in total, all of which are lands. They will include all 10 fetch lands, the Battle Bond crowd lands, and powerful lands like Cavern of Souls and Wasteland.

All 10 fetch lands appear as Expeditions in Zendikar Rising.

However, unlike Zendikar and Battle for Zendikar, the Expeditions in Zendikar Rising will not randomly appear in booster packs. Instead, they will only be available as Box Toppers.

These Box Topper Expeditions will be non-foil and one will come with every booster box of Zendikar Rising and two will be included with Collector Booster boxes. While they aren’t foil, they do have a new-and-improved glossy finish that Wizards demoed on Twitter. The foil Expeditions, on the other hand, are exclusive the the Collector Boosters where they will appear in one of every six.

Many players were disappointed that the fetches weren’t included in draft booster packs of Zendikar Rising. But, during the reveal stream, Senior Communications Manager Blake Rasmussen said that he had talked to one of Wizards’ in-house economists about just how many fetch lands would be opened despite not being in booster packs. According the Rasmussen, “[the economist] let me know that, based on just the first printing of Zendikar Rising and Ultimate Edition, there are more copies of Marsh Flats printed in 2020 (so you can say that for any of the enemy fetch lands) than there are copies of, for example, Force of Will or any other given Double Masters mythic rare.”

Magic Fiction Returns!

Magic’s story has had its own fair share of twists and turns over the few years.

Beginning in 2018, Wizards shifted its storytelling to long formats, from the poorly-received War of the Spark novels, to the widely praised Wildered Quest ebook, and the cancelled Theros: Beyond death ebook. But with Zendikar Rising, the short-form web fiction that made up the bulk of Magic’s story pre-2018 is making a comeback.

Starting tomorrow, September 2, Zendikar Rising’s story will be told in eight or nine parts on both Wednesdays and Fridays. The main plot will consist of five stories, all posted on Wednesdays, while the Friday posts will explore other characters and events on Zendikar.


Zendikar Rising will be available on MTG Arena and Magic online on September 17 and will release on tabletop on September 25.

Don't Miss Out!

Sign up for the Hipsters Newsletter for weekly updates.